Q: One visitor asked, "I was reading your site and saw that one should not use oil based cleaners. Why? Our installer told us to use vinegar in water, and use a damp cloth to clean the floor about once a week. Will this damage the floor? What is a polyurethane cleaner? Where do you buy it?"
A: If an oil based cleaner is used on polyurethane finished floors, it leaves an oily residue on the surface which can not only make cleaning the floor more difficult, but after a period of time, when the floor is showing signs of wear and needs to be buffed and recoated, this residue can present adhesion problems. When cleaning any hardwood floor, or furniture, minimal water should be used. In other words, wipe with a dampened, not wet cloth. Adding a capful of vinegar can help and is suggested by the National Wood Flooring Association. However, I have heard one floor finish manufacturer dispute this, believing the vinegar is too acidic and can break down the finish eventually. The absolutely simple and safe way to clean any sort of wood that is finished with a urethane is to use polyurethane cleaners which are manufactured by both hardwood flooring manufacturers and manufacturers of polyurethane. I use Squeeky Cleaner from Basic Coatings. Any hardwood flooring supplier near you should carry this or similar product. Also, Home Depot is a likely place to look, since they do sell hardwood flooring. This cleaner is usually blue in color, and is mixed 4 parts water to one part cleaner in a spray bottle. Mist some on a cloth and wipe. You can use this to clean any wood finished with urethane top coats.
Related questions about wood floor maintenance and cleaning:
Cleaning and Maintenance
>Do you need to wax or clean hardwood with a buffer or electric polisher? What is the best cleaning product?
>Are the cleaning products we use making our new floors look dull and mottled? What can we use to get the shine back?
>What's the best cleaner for wood floors?
>How do we clean these old floors?
Care & Maintenance
>How do I care for my hardwood floor?
>Should padding be placed under our area rug?
>I put on three coats of polyurethane on my newly sanded and stained floor, do I need to wax it?
>How do I get my dull laminate floor to shine?
>How long should I wait to replace the furniture after the final coat on our floors?
>What can I put in between wide pine boards after installing so stuff won't fall in the cracks?
Humidity & Home Environment
>Is this true about new hardwood needing to settle?
>Preventing cracks in floor boards of harder species.
>Is cracking due to humidity?
>We have large cracks even in our master bath. Now after 3 months of humidity control & moisture on the insides of my windows the cracks are even worse. I can see the subfloor through some of them. Is moisture the only cause of these cracks or might there be some other causes we should consider, and what are the best ways to take care of this problem?
>How long would it take for the wood to respond to the increased moisture, and is is reasonable to expect the cracks to close completely? What is the recommended thing to fill these cracks? Wood putty, etc?
>How do we protect our floors from cold weather?
>Have you ever seen a change with your moisture meter on hardwood flooring in just one week?
>How do you prevent douglas fir from oxidizing and turning orange?